Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Photographing Motorcross for the first time - so much fun!

A couple of weeks ago, I went with my family as they did a walk for charity. We got to the fairgrounds (where the walk was located) about an hour before the start time. They were content to hang out by the starting line, but when we arrived, I saw these motorcycles racing out in the distance and I just could not help myself. I had my Canon 5D Mark III and 28-300mm lens ready to go, so I broke away for 45 minutes and had a field day shooting photos of these guys.


I have never photographed motorcycle racing and I am no expert in this sport. But, I always say that a good photographer should be able to shoot interesting photos of almost anything, if they know how to control the camera and know how to frame a shot. So...I set the camera to get me a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 second and walked to a position where I would have a good background. I walked to the edge of this one turn and waited for a rider to come by. Since there were a lot of distractions behind the pile of dirt, I got down low and tried to avoid all of that in the frame.


I would watch the riders coming around the track and try to key in on the riders that were fast and aggressive.


I made sure to stand in the same direction as the sun so that I would not get shadows on the rider's faces. I laughed when I saw this photo, because the rider was looking directly at me instead of the course. I know that if I were on that bike, I would be looking ahead!


After shooting many photos with the subject centered, I moved the focal point to the far left of the camera so that I could frame the photo like this. I have the rider off to the left with the trail of dirt coming off the rear tire to the right. For those of you wondering, I shot all these photos in servo focus mode since the riders were at varying speeds and distances from me, and I kept the focal point on the rider.


I walked around the track photographing the big guys, and then came across this little track for the beginner riders. I saw this little guy, who couldn't have been older than 6 years old, who was cruising around the track and I just had to get a shot!


The older riders had completed their race and it was time for the younger kids to have a go at the big track. I was amazed at how good these kids were.


They could get a lot of air even on these smaller bikes!



In this photo you can see all the background distractions I was talking about at the beginning of this blog. It was almost impossible to shoot wide shots without seeing all these power poles and power lines. Not the best background, but this photo does show the height of this kid's jump.


For these shots, I moved the focal point to the far right, so that my subject would be heading out of the frame.


I then returned to the same turn where I started shooting and grabbed some photos of the younger kids coming through. I picked these photos since they show action. The front tires are off the dirt and there is debris flying from the back of the motorcycles. The challenge with shooting any motor sport, is that, by freezing the action, it might look like the rider is just stationary on the bike. For this reason, it is imperative to have the rider leaning into a turn or showing the bike in motion. This tells the viewer that the rider is moving and not posing on the track.



Another rider checking me out from high in the air. :)


After catching many photos from the side of the jumps, I moved to a position where I could shoot photos of the riders straight on. I zoomed the lens to 300mm and shot photos of these guys at the height of their jumps.

If you know me, you know that I love shooting anything new. And I really had a great time photographing these riders. I hope to head back to this local track during the summer to get some more photos. Next time I will bring the Canon 1DX and an even longer lens. I may even bring a remote camera with a 16-35mm wide angle lens to position on the track. So many photo opportunities and so little time to get them!

5 comments:

Dawn Gail said...

Awesome shots! Those little ones are amazing, they have no fear.

Murali DC said...

your blogs inspired me very much to get into to Photography..great details that you have posted in blogs.. thanks for sharing.. very less people share knowledge

Murali DC said...

Thanks for sharing knowledge.. I know very less people do that..
your blogs are always inspiring..

Geoff R said...

Wait until you go to Indy, there are many places to shoot. Make sure you get into the Paddock. If you can also try and get permission to get in a transporter, very interesting. Might try and contact a race team before you go, I know Andretti Autosports took my son and I around their shop a couple years ago.

Colin Foyle said...

Great shots. I have been tempted with that 28-300L lens. I have the Sigma 50-500mm OS lens, and it is a little lighter than the Canon, but doesn't do the wide angle at all. I think the Canon is a better all-rounder, but more than twice the cost of the BigmaOS.